Friday, March 07, 2008

Warming up to the idea?

So I'm getting some perspective on the whole school thing. A bunch of other parents have been applying and getting replies from schools as well. (This is the time of year for it) Anyway, not every kid has gotten in. Most have, but not all.

Some have been wait listed, and some have been turned down flat. Others did not apply in time, or the application got messed up due to late letters of reference coming from third parties, issues with faxes, deliveries, etc. There are some somber faces around the school these days, and those of us who have reason to celebrate probably shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth I guess.

See here in TO we have a weird situation school-wise. There is a very wide variation in the quality of public schools due to funding issues but also due to the way schools have organized themselves. Unless you live in the catchment for a really good all round school, you need to apply for a special program like an arts school, or a French immersion program, or an International Baccaluerate program, or Science/Math program or whatever, (there is a huge list of options available.) And that has to be done months ago for Grade 9 entry. This is free mind you, but it's complicated and can even be done by lottery if there are too many qualified kids and not enough spots. Alternatively, you can buy a house in a good catchment to get your kid in, or you can fake rent an apartment from someone who lives in catchment and go crazy changing your driver's license and your health card and everything, in a desperate attempt to prove where you live.

So lots of parents give up on the whole public mess and go private, and in elementary, most kids can be admitted if a big enough tuition is offered. (The irony by the way, is that because at private elementary schools your kid goes all day and can stay until 5:00, for the early years private school is cheaper than daycare or nannies or babysitters for working women. Whoops, I forgot, according to the idiots who structured the education system, 2 1/2 hours a day of school in kindergarten is okay, and 6 hours of elementary is fine because all of us women are required to be home baking freakin' you know how bizarre it is to get into a debate with someone who sends their kid to public school and pays for aftercare and spends money on tutoring programs and when we add up the money they spend on the supposed "public system" they spend more than we do per year? Nonsensical....)

Regardless as your kid gets older you can't just pay and get them in, they have to qualify by writing tests and showing decent marks on their previous report cards. They need references and they need to be able to show that they can actually perform in school. And although there are lots of private schools in the GTA there are not that many good schools that are worth the money.

So it's something that has to be planned a bit, not quite like New York, but not quite as laisser-faire as London, and this kind of thing happens in the suburbs and rural areas as well in Canada by the way, it's just that people have fewer choices the further out in the country they get....I know most of my readers think the hard part is getting pregnant and having live babies, but damn, raising them is pretty complicated these days as well.

Figuring out child care, and health issues, and getting them into programs like swimming and summer camps, and sports, and helping them with friends, and girls, and learning disabilities, and all....I don't care what anyone says, it's a lot more difficult than it was years ago.

Like swimming? I got up at 6 am the other day to organize them getting registered online for city swimming lessons. It's dramatically cheaper than private swim clubs, but actually getting them in is a nightmare. I know people who line up at 2 am at the community centre to get a spot for their kid, and others who line up multiple computers and phone lines and click madly away at 7 am sharp trying to be the first in line. Never used to be this way, until tax cuts killed off extra classes. People could just register whenever, and in some neighbourhoods, like most of the downtown core, it was free. There were lots of options. Now what the hell do people do who don't have computers? Or who can't line up at 2 am because they are single moms and have no one to stay with a sleeping kid? Or who don't have the money to register for even the cheapest lessons?

I have to start getting them registered for summer camps now and I may have missed the window for some of the best ones....and when 37 cm of snow is falling I'm just not inspired to think about summer AT ALL. Logically I know this is the perfect time, God willing I'll have a healthy newborn to look after and I know Kaz and Mac will be bored sitting around all summer in the air conditioning and watch me breastfeed, so I have to do something with them----but ohh crap, I don't feel like even thinking about it right now.

So maybe I'll just contemplate the school stuff. I guess.

Maybe not. Maybe I need a nap instead.


  1. I talked to my people. They said pretty much what we had already said, go in and talk to their people about Kaz and what you want and you should get a pretty good idea of how committed they are to supporting him.

    Frigging summer camp registration is driving me mad.

  2. I hate all this shiz. Bella's only 3.5, and we're already attending open houses and sweating blood about WHERE SHE'LL GO TO COLLEGE depending on what effin' school she gets into, and IF she'll be gifted at music maybe we should apply to x, but IF she's a gifted athlete we don't want her stuck at y, and on and on. The public schools are unhealthy and unsafe and mismanaged. Thankfully, the private schools are some of the best in the country, so I'm trying not to lose too much sleep, hoping she gets in SOMEWHERE. But it is a headache, isn't it. And we don't do nearly enough activities. Time to get off my ass, I guess.

  3. Ahh.. the subburbs. I haven't looked into the private schools (although I do know that option is cheaper when they are young). But as for swimming. Boo has been consecutively registered since September and I have almost always registered and paid on the last day of class for the next class that starts the next week.

  4. Oh I wish I could move back to civilization. We recently moved across country to a small city with sparse opportunities for little ones. If we ever get a little one, it'll be a challenge finding a good school.

  5. The preK/K application process for private schools here is insane. In our city, the public schools have to serve a very diverse population, including lots of recent immigrants (mostly from Haiti and Brazil), whose first language isn't English. Many parents would like send their kids to the very, very expensive private schools, but getting in is nightmarish because there are so many applicants for every slot.

  6. Wow, and I was complaining about standing in line for 2 hours to get A. into preschool.